So all this talk about cooking, just ordinary cooking, has gotten me thinking about go-to recipes, the ones you rely on and can do without really thinking. For Michael Ruhlman it’s a roast chicken. Which I’ve got to second. I use Marcella Hazan’s “recipe” which is nothing more than a roast chicken with a lemon stuck full of fork holes inside it. The lemon does wonders.
I’m having the girls over for Oscar night on Sunday, so I’ve been thinking about what to cook.There’s going to be a bunch of us (the Sweetheart is fleeing to his cabin, not a fan of pop culture is he) and we’re all going to be talking on top of one another and swilling wine, so I’m thinking something simple. I’ve got a couple of big roasts in the freezer — I know there’s at least one pork shoulder down there, and a chuck roast, but I might wind up turning to an old favorite, penne with vodka sauce. It’s a great party dish because it holds pretty well, you can make it in enormous quantities, and I’ve never fed it to anyone who didn’t really like it. With bread, and a salad (I’m thinking the marinated beet and grapefruit salad from Urban Italianby Andrew Carmellini.
The penne vodka recipe I use (well, I think I’ve memorized it by now) is from one of the first books I ever worked on, back when I was a starving editorial assistant in New York: The Glamour Food Book, now sadly out of print. It was a collection of recipes that Glamour Magazine pulled together and reprinted, most of which were fast, easy, and reasonably cheap since their target market was young working women who were just starting out. I still have it, and I still cook from it.
So there’s a thought. A mainstream fashion magazine in the 1980s that had recipes, for real food, for food you’d cook for a little dinner party, or to feed yourself on an evening after a long day at work. And it wasn’t considered “cooking from scratch” or anything exotic. It was just cooking. It was just what you did, especially if you were young, and didn’t have much money, and wanted to entertain. Hmm. No wonder I’m such a dinosaur.
So readers, what are your go-to recipes? The ones you use when you don’t want to think about a recipe. When you just want to cook something you know you like, and that you know your friends and family like?